I am Mission Success: Steve Kersh

  • Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2024, 1:43 pm

Steve Kersh, Pantex meteorologist
Take five minutes and learn about CNS’s Steve Kersh, Pantex meteorologist. All views and opinions are each contributor’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

Pantex workers come from all walks of life, and a few Pantexans may be recognized by their previous jobs in the field of journalism. In case you don’t recognize him from his more than two decades as local TV chief meteorologist, please meet Steve Kersh, who joined Pantex about four years ago. His expertise in weather forecasting has cemented his place as an integral part of mission success.

“Having worked here in Amarillo for 23 years, I know how important Pantex is to our country’s mission and am excited and honored to be a part of that mission,” said Kersh. “I think I have been successful in expanding our lightning-detection systems, providing redundant systems in case another fails, and helping reduce production downtime due to weather, while maximizing the production uptime as well.”

Kersh’s expertise was an integral part of recent efforts during the wildfires that threatened the plant.

“Having a staff meteorologist of Steve Kersh’s experience and expertise is very important,” according to Senior Director of the Explosives Technology Operations, Monty Cates. “His ability to use satellite imagery paired with real time weather forecasting…was really amazing. He was able to show the emergency response organizations exactly where the fire front was despite all the smoke and was able to correctly predict how the fire would respond to changing weather conditions as it approached the site. Steve provided a clear picture of the threat and invaluable information for the emergency response teams.”

“It was a team effort that night,” Kersh noted. “I worked closely with Chief Taylor of our Pantex Fire Department to make sure that we stayed on top of the events with the Windy Deuce Fire, as the cold front approached it from the north and the shift toward Pantex became inevitable. I think we have a World Class Emergency Management Team at Pantex and I’m proud to be a very small part of it!”

Along with all his other duties, at the start of each week, Steve is asked to forecast upcoming weather events that can have a direct impact on production.

“I provide a forecast for the week’s potential production impacts due to the expected weather conditions. I’ve spoken to many different project team leads during various weather events and you feel like you are a part of what’s going on out here, even if it is simply updating them on the changing Panhandle weather!” Kersh said. “Having previously worked in a job where I set up and maintained a 207-site weather station network came in handy when our department decided to start up the Pantex StrikeNet project.”

With the StrikeNet app, meteorological information such as wind speed, wind direction, temperature, relative humidity, dew point, barometric pressure, rainfall, rainfall rate and even lightning data is now available to anyone. The StrikeNet app can be downloaded free of charge, on Google Play and the App Store.

While weather forecasters have always taken their knocks over missing weather predictions every now and then, today’s technology has made meteorology more science than guesswork.

Why are you mission success?
I am mission success because I think I have been successful in expanding our lightning detection systems, providing redundant systems in case another fails, and helping reduce production downtime due to weather, while maximizing the production uptime as well. I think it’s the “Technology-and-Innovation” that drives me to be successful.

What is your favorite aspect about your work environment?
My office in the JCDC gets VERY BUSY during any weather event. I have many Pantex employees who walk by to check the radar, chat about the weather or weekend activities that they have going on, etc. I love getting to meet my fellow Pantexans and find out about what they are doing. When severe weather is ongoing, there’s usually a crowd outside my cubicle and a lot going on.

What is one thing your coworkers would be surprised to know about you?
Many of my co-workers found a “blooper tape” from my previous job that someone posted on YouTube. I have been reminded many times of exploding studio lights during my weathercasts and several verbal miscues of mine, over the years!

What’s your favorite outside-of-work activity and why?
Storm chasing has been a fun hobby of mine, including chasing with my wife and my boys. My wife told me that she used to think that storm chasing was dangerous and just a bunch of people out “looking at storms.” She went out with me and met several other meteorologists out in various parts of the Panhandle, including a vacationing, storm-chasing Australian! She realized that there’s actually a lot of science that goes into storm chasing and I think… maybe… she enjoyed it?

Why are communications important for all Pantex and Y-12 employees?
I think communications and communicating is the MOST VITAL role at Pantex! There are so many “moving parts” here at Pantex that if you don’t communicate, problems arise quickly. I communicate with so many other departments, so many employees in various roles and with Electromagnetics Department members as well. It’s an absolute critical role in my job!